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$3.2M Judgment Goes Against CU In Case

VISALIA, Calif.-A Tulare County Superior Court jury last week ordered Tucoemas FCU to pay its former vice president of lending $3.2 million in an employment discrimination case. Kim McGee, 46, of Exeter, said she was demoted to a part-time job from her former position as a vice president of the credit union after she asked for two additional weeks to recover from treatment for breast cancer, which had included an operation as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Her job had been held for her for four months. In making the award, the jury agreed that the credit union had failed to provide accommodations for McGee and had reduced her wages and benefits after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. McGee had worked for the credit union for 17 years.

Alaska's CUs Brace For Other Dividends

FAIRBANKS, Alaska-The state's credit unions and banks were flooded with new deposits last week as the state paid out its annual permanent fund dividend checks from oil revenues. The state transferred more than $372 million into credit unions and banks on Oct. 12 as residents who chose to have their annual checks direct-deposited-about 450,000 recipients-got this year's payout of $845.76.

Much of those funds went directly into the state's 12 credit unions. The remaining 150,000 residents who did not get their checks directly deposited will receive them by electronic deposit. The only requirement is to be a resident of Alaska for one year.

Study Finds Credit Card Debt Has Grown To New Levels

WASHINGTON-The average consumer is wracking up credit card debt as never before, often using plastic to pay for household expenses, monthly mortgages and even, business expenses, according to a new report issued last week by the Center for Responsible Lending, a subsidiary of Self-Help CU.

"American families are facing financial hardship not experienced for generations, and we commissioned this survey to tell us precisely why they are turning to credit cards so often," said Tamara Draut, director of the Economic Opportunity Program for Demos, a co-author of the report.

Key findings from the report, called The Plastic Safety Net: The Reality Behind Credit Card Debt in America, are:

* The average credit card debt of low- and middle-income households has risen to $8,650; 70% of low and middle-income households use their credit cards as a safety net to pay basic living expenses, medical expenses or home repairs.

* 20% of homeowners paid off some credit card debt by refinancing their mortgage, reducing the equity they own in their homes, but still had a credit card debt over $14,000.

* The study shows that credit card debt in America has tripled since 1989, and increased by 31% in just the last five years, to more than $800 billion. Since 1989, the study noted, consumer bankruptcies have also tripled in number from 616,000 to 1.8 million a year.

Release of the report comes five days before the effectiveness of the new bankruptcy law, which will make it harder for consumers to erase all of their debts through bankruptcy later this month.

Senate To Commence Inquiry Into Flood Insurance Program

WASHINGTON-The Senate Banking Committee will officially commence its inquiry into the adequacy of the flood insurance and potential solutions for the massive shortfall in coverage in the hurricane-stricken Gulf States.

The panel has scheduled a hearing on the National Flood Insurance Program for Oct. 18 where officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the program's administrator, and other experts are scheduled to testify.

Congress is studying potential ways to make up what is estimated at tens of billions of dollars of uninsured flood damages caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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The Credit Union Journal's On Deadline coverage is sponsored by Liberty. For info: www.libertysite.com.

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